By Jigger J. Jerusalem
THE police regional leadership has directed law enforcers to identify the perpetrators behind the killing of four persons whose remains were dug up in separate graves in Bukidnon towns on Aug. 22.
Camp Alagar spokesperson Lt. Col. Mardy Hortillosa said police regional director Brig. Gen. Rafael Santiago Jr. has directed the law enforcers in San Fernando and Kitaotao to go deeper on their investigation so the identities of the killers could be known.
“Part of our regional director’s directive is to fast-track the identity of the suspects so appropriate charges could be filed against those responsible for the killings,” Hortillosa said.
Bukidnon provincial police chief Col. Roel Lamiing said that while information provided to authorities point to the New People’s Army (NPA) as the culprit, it is also important to single out the individuals who carried out the killings.
“We are still inviting potential witnesses so we can use their testimonies in the filing of complaints,” Lamiing said, adding that it is possible there could be other mass graves in Bukidnon .
According to a report provided by the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), the remains of those exhumed in Barangay Digongan, Kitaotao town were identified as Joel Rey Galendez, a retired policeman; Dionisio Havana, a tribal leader in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur; and Army T/Sgt. Reynante España.
The three victims were said to be taken by force by NPA fighters when they set up a road blockade in Kalagangan, San Fernado, on Aug. 22, 2017.
On that same day, another body was found in Barangay Matupi, San Fernando town, which police identified as Remon Manoos, 24, single, a resident of Barangay Balagunan, Santo Tomas, Davao del Norte.
Lamiing said Manoos was a former member of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 55 who surrendered to the Army’s 89th Infantry Battalion based in Davao del Norte, but was discovered by his comrades who killed him on Jan. 28, 2019.
In an interview, 10th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. said they believed that the three victims were subjected to “kangaroo court-style trial” by the NPA.
The shallow graves were found after former members of the Komiting Rebolusyonaryo sa Municipalidad informed the military, said 89th IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Silas Trasmontero.
It is possible that the victims buried in Kitaotao were specifically targeted before they were abducted and executed by the NPA, said 4th ID public affairs head Maj. Reggie Go.
Kitaotao police chief Capt. Jose Regner Sevilleno said it is up to the police to act as “nominal complainants” if the families are not interested on pressing charges against the killers.
Sevilleno said they have already submitted DNA samples of the victims to the police crime laboratory in Manila to confirm the identity of those killed.
He said once they have the identities of the perpetrators, they could be facing charges of abduction and multiple homicide.